4/20/09

France, here I come - it's official!!

Got word last night that I am heading to France, Holland and Belgium on Friday night. So I need to pack my bag this week for the 16 day trip. I'll miss 3 races I had planned on doing in the Psycowpath (2) and IMBCS (1) series, but a free trip to Europe is a free trip to Europe... . I'll have to rent a street bike every few days to pedal around and keep some kind of fitness.

Zack hit another home run yesterday and I will miss a few games while overseas, but be back for the majority of the season to watch him.

The semester's final tests are underway and I should finish all the grading by Tuesday night. I think spring is even set to arrive later this week with temperatures climbing up to 80 by the weekend. Weather looks to be in the 60's over in Holland and France where I am heading - so no need for warm weather clothing on this trip.

4/18/09

Bone Bender is a BUST!!!

Disappointment would be the word I would choose after paying for a tank and a half of gas, a $35 entry fee, a $5 parking fee and spending 6 hours on the highway to drive to Smithville Lake in Missouri for the 2009 Bone Bender XC mountain bike race. The event had been postponed from March due to weather and promises on the MTBR.com forums said that come rain or shine the event was on and would be good.

Here's a newsflash: It should have been postponed again!!!!

I doubted that the race would be normal with the weather forecast while watching the weather channel last night and checking things this morning. Sure enough, it was raining and I didn't like that, but no cancellation announcement was posted - so off I went at 8 am. I drove through a lot of heavy rain on the way down to Missouri that had come from the Kansas City area, so my worries mounted as to what condition the trails would be in for the race. I thought about turning around, but was itching to race and get a good 3 hour workout.

Needless to say - the conditions sucked. Big time! We all rode the 1st mile or so in greasy soup and then everyone had to dismount as the mud build up on our wheels made it impossible for the wheels to even turn. And our drive trains were filled with mud, chainsuck and not looking pretty. That's when owning a mountain bike and racing in crap like that gets expensive. I think it took nearly 2 hours to get 1/2 way through the first lap where at mile point 4.9 (most of which I hiked carrying my bike laden with heavy mud) I decided to pull out of the race and head back to Iowa. Race isn't actually the word for it. More like I decided to pull out of the hike through the woods carrying my bike.

I know it is tough being a race director. And I can imagine having postponed the event once already added pressure to run the event. However, I think wisdom should have trumped valor and either the route altered or another postponement made. I will be interested to hear how many pulled out of the race and how many finished. For me, it was absolutely not worth my time. As I stood in line at the bike wash with another dozen or so riders, we were all in agreement it was a bust. And that's a big bummer for me since funds for travel are limited and going all that distance to not be able to ride in a race really heats me up. I think a singlespeed with tires narrow enough for clearance at the fork and chainstay so mud wouldn't stop the wheels from rolling would have been the ticket to complete a lap. Even then, plenty of hiking would have been involved. I would have been better off jogging the course and leaving my bike in the car.

To be honest, I would have been less ticked off if the race director had assembled all of us for the rider's meeting and said "Guys and Gals. Conditions are simply not right to hold the race. The race is postponed again."

Smithville is a great looking mountain bike trail in the proper conditions. I hope to get back some day when it is dry and have a go at it. But for me, the 2009 Bone Bender was a major disappointment.

4/17/09

Bone Bender here I come...

I've decided to head to the Bone Bender XC race in Missouri tomorrow. They have a 3 hour and a 6 hour version of the race with a mass start at 12 noon. Rain is expected, so it could be "fun".

Checklist:

Cash
Sports Drink
Power Bars
Gu
Gu Chews
Bananas
Water
Big Air
Extra Tube
Tools
Pump
Bike(s)
Crotch Butter
Gloves
Helmet
Team Kit
Shoes
Rain Gear
Recovery Snacks
Towel/Wash Cloth
Post race clothing
Map/Directions
Full Tank of Gas

I think I've got everything. If not, well I'll make do.

Time for a good night's sleep.

Banner Pits

I snuck away for lunch hour to Banner Pits to get a ride with a little intensity in it and check out the tubeless tires to make sure they were good to go for the weekend.

My hat is off to the trail crew and oodles of volunteers that have put in their time to get this trail built. Wow! is about all I can say. There are some amazing drops and some super steep short climbs all mixed in with plenty of tight switchbacks and a lot of balancing act moves on sidecuts that keep one's attention throughout. This is a very unique trail and it is a joy to see it come to fruition. I tried it out on Monday and again Thursday during lunch hour. This is a difficult trail and certainly not for beginners. I'm not sure if it will be a direction specific loop (sections of it look to be with a jump and a super steep drop or two) or not when completed, but I rode it both ways yesterday and enjoyed riding in both directions. I'm going to need to get about a dozen rides in out there just to get the flow and balance down.

If I am in town and not at work, I must - repeat MUST - attend a trail work day to chip in and help as the loop gets finished and ready for the end of May XC race. The stars have never aligned for me to attend one of those (I was either out of town or had to be at work). I didn't head over to ride the beginner trail as I assume it still has a lot of flood damage from a few weeks ago and needs to dry out for a few weeks. But the new trail is a top notch feather in the CITA trail system and a must ride for anyone serious about mountain biking.

4/15/09

Grand Slam!!!

Oh yeah.....

Homer, sweet homer.

Zack's opening spring league high school baseball game was tonight against Ankeny. I was able to watch the first half of the 5:30 game before going back to school for the evening recitals.

Zack hit an opposite field single to drive in 2 runs in his first at bat in the bottom of the 1st. He pitched the 3rd inning where they scored one run. In the bottom of the third, Zack hit a grand slam over the center field fence against the wind. Sweet!!! I had to leave after the top of the 4th, but he got a single in his last at bat to finish 3 for 3. That's not a bad way to start the season and he helped his team win 12 - 2. He hit a homer over the center field fence last night in practice as well, so the mechanics are working (not to mention the weight lifting).

Two more full days of teaching before we head into final exams Sunday - Thursday. 2 of my students have their senior degree recitals Friday night and one has his on Saturday night, so I have been busy this week with their dress rehearsals and making final small adjustments and changes.

Not much time for cycling or training this week with everything in full swing at school, but if the weather permits it - I may do a race this weekend. I also have a wedding to attend, auditions and voice juries all day Sunday, a baseball game to attend and shopping to do if I am going overseas.

No rest in sight...

4/10/09

Opening weekend...

It's opening weekend for the Royals in KC. We're heading down today for the Royals vs. Yankees opening series this weekend, a little shopping, a little eating, a little swimming and weekend getaway.

Training continues with intensity. I never know which races I will actually get to do based on weather, family schedule, work and all those things that seem to come up in life at the last minute. It now looks like a very strong possibility that my work will be taking me over to France/Belgium/Holland for a few weeks in April and May. I had not planned on that trip, so if I do end up going over the big pond - I will miss out on 4 of my planned opening races I originally thought I would race: Sylvan Island, Ingawanis, Swanson and Platte River. I should know early next week if France/Belgium/Holland is in or out of the work schedule. No matter, I still continue with my training as if I was preparing for next weekend's opening race.

Now - off to Kansas City...

4/4/09

MSP - onto the 2nd half...

Due to the cancellation of today's Psycowpath #1 race, I began the second ten day block of MSP intervals yesterday after work to complete my pre-season final race training before I rotate into my in-season training plan. I had planned on using the race as day one of the block, but moved it to last night instead. I had been doing my rest/recovery week which included an hour trail ride out at Lake Ahquabi on Wednesday (very muddy ride). With the race cancellation, I shortened my rest and recovery week by one day.

After a good warm-up with the FM radio blasting out tunes from my generation - I launched into 2 reps of 20 minutes on with a 10 minute recovery spin between the intervals. My target was for a total MSP workload of 40 minutes. Both 20 minute intervals showed a significant improvement over my early season 20 minute FTP test in terms of average power (wattage) which I was pleased to see.

It's a real mind game to complete these intervals, but I like doing them on the trainer because the computer does not lie and you are able to monitor yourself to keep the RPM's where they need to be no matter how much it hurts. I don't have a computer on my bike, so no matter how I try to do these intervals out on the bike path - I cannot get the consistent feedback and power that I can on the C7i (even though I think I am!!!!). I felt the first two or three minutes of each interval were "too easy", but was careful not to adjust my cadence or increase the power level because I know as the longer intervals progress - it gets more difficult. Sure enough, the heart rate climbed up to the target area of heart rate that is consistent with the 95% - 100% of MSPO I was targeting. The last 5 minutes of each 20 minute interval was difficult and had me curling my lip and noticing the pile of drool collecting all over the bike and on the floor. '-)

I may head outside today for the intervals to do them on the bike path where there is a 10 - 12 minute climb from Banner Pits to Indianola which makes it difficult to cheat. I just turn around and go climb the same section several times using the return trip down the hill as my recovery spin between efforts. I won't be able to monitor the cadence to stay consistent, but it will force me to fight all the way up the hill.

My wife is heading up to audition for the I-Cubs to sing the national anthem at a game this season. So I will do my intervals while she is warbling the banner.

Edit: I did today's session outside. I always marvel at how one can ride east, north and south and somehow be riding dead into the tooth of the wind the entire way. Only going west was I with the wind. Too bad that only involved 10 minutes out of a 2 hour ride!!!! Call me befuddled, but that's what the wind was like today. Somehow blowing against wherever I was going. It made going downhill seem like I was going uphill. And it made going uphill quite a chore today.

Legs and lungs are pooped. Two rest days before continuation of MSP intervals.